Digital Transformation in Municipalities: Darmstadt’s Smart City White Book


An important step on the way to becoming the digital city of Darmstadt will be taken on 27 April 2023. On this day, not only will the Smart Region Summit of the Hessian state government take place in the Centralstation, but Lord Mayor Jochen Partsch will also hand over the White Book Smart City to Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus, the Digital Minister of Hesse.

The White Book from Darmstadt is a valuable tool for other cities and municipalities

Darmstadt has made a name for itself as a leading city in the development of smart cities and has always recognised that it also has a responsibility to share its knowledge. The White Book, which was produced by an independent consultancy team, is a valuable resource in this regard. The innovative approaches and projects developed in Darmstadt should serve as a source of inspiration for other cities and municipalities. For us, the White Book is above all a benchmark for the progress we have already made, and we have done well, says Darmstadt’s Lord Mayor Jochen Partsch.

The White Book Smart City was analysed by “Die Strategiemanufaktur” from Karlsruhe, a consulting firm specialising in the evaluation of funding programmes. Together with the sustainability-oriented consulting agency “e-hoch-3” from Darmstadt, the results were evaluated. The focus was on the digital city of Darmstadt, its strategy and four selected projects that were subjected to close scrutiny and evaluation.

A key success factor for a comprehensive consideration and analysis as well as for acceptance within the urban society lies in the establishment of an ethics advisory board. This advisory board plays an important role in the holistic assessment and is particularly emphasised. Furthermore, the ongoing integration of sustainability to achieve goals and the view that a Smart City is always the result of an inclusive cooperation of the entire urban society are positively evaluated. The recommendations for action listed in the White Book also have a pioneering function for other cities and municipalities in Germany.

Practical tips for German cities and municipalities

The White Book Smart City demonstrates in a clear way how municipalities can successfully implement digitalisation. It shows how to build a good strategy and illustrates the long-term effects of these measures. Darmstadt has already achieved great success on this path, receiving state funding of around 5 million euros. Now it wants to share the lessons it has learned with other municipalities. The state funding for the digital city was introduced by Hesse in 2017 as one of the first financial supports for the smart city concept in Germany. It is important that digitalisation focuses on the idea of cooperation and exchange instead of acting in isolation. Joint learning and efficient action are crucial to be successful. For this reason, the Smart Region Office will also make the results of the White Book available to other municipalities, as Hessen’s Digital Minister Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus emphasises.

At the Smart Region Summit on 27 April, Mayor Jochen Partsch presented the Smart City White Book to the Minister of Digital Affairs, Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus. The event took place at the Centralstation Darmstadt and aimed to network Hessian municipalities and regions and facilitate an exchange. The focus was on projects funded by the state as part of the “Strong Homeland Hessen” programme, as well as projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Building. In addition to the project presentations, there were expert lectures, networking opportunities and the presentation of best practice examples. Around 150 representatives of Hessian municipalities attended the event, which was organised by the Minister for Digital Strategy and Development.

Both the Smart City White Book and a guidebook have been published in two different versions. The White Book can be purchased either as a printed, handy version or as a comprehensive long version available for download. Also available in print and as a download is the guide, which helps cities and municipalities to assess and evaluate their own strategies and projects.

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